CFP: The Pathological Body: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives in the Age of Modern Medicine / Deadline: 15 September, 2021

Posted by Paula Clemente Vega on 11 May 2021

Open Library of Humanities Journal Special Collection: Call for Articles

The Pathological Body: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives in the Age of Modern Medicine

Since the birth of modern medicine in nineteenth-century Europe, its authority and influence has profoundly shaped society. Medical institutions in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin identified new forms of pathology, with ‘illnesses’ such as hysteria and degeneration becoming social concerns. Such disorders, diagnosed by usually male doctors, were inevitably entangled with politics and cultural biases which were consistent with a patriarchal society enforcing the boundaries of normativity. Since then, literature has absorbed the discourse of medicine, reworking and amplifying the meaning of wellness and sickness.

This Special Collection aims to examine society’s relationship with sickness through literature and language(s). Taking a European transnational and transhistorical approach, it will look closer at the politics of the body since the mid-nineteenth century. Contributions are welcome from across the Modern Languages: the emphasis is on what literary researchers within Modern Languages collectively can bring to Medical Humanities. All articles should be written in English and, for maximum accessibility, all foreign-language quotations will be given both in the original and in English.

This Collection has been inspired by the ‘Pathological Body’ conference hosted at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) in London in September 2019, generously funded by the Cassal Endowment Fund and the Society for French Studies. The ten speakers examined literature and film from five countries (Spain, France, Turkey, Italy, and Germany), and the panels focused on different aspects of the ‘pathological body’, encompassing ‘Nation and Body’, ‘Personae, Identity, Subjectivity’, and ‘Therapy and the Text’. It is the intention of this Collection to further expand the dialogue which arose from the event. More details are available on the conference website, and recordings of seven of the talks are available:

Suggested themes for articles include, but are not limited to:

  • Fin de siècle
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Class
  • Degeneration
  • Blood
  • Hysteria
  • Social order
  • Myth
  • Sacred and the religious
  • Suffering
  • Contagion
  • Evil
  • Medicine
  • Illness and cure
  • Life and death
  • The other
  • Purification
  • Nationhood
  • Utopia
  • Politics
  • Deviancy
  • Contamination
  • Infection
  • Ideology
  • Rebirth
  • Healing
  • Morality
  • Necropolitics
  • Biopolitics
  • Power
  • Ritual
  • Abject body
  • Heredity
  • Identity

Initial informal queries are welcome. Please email abstracts and a short biography to: Dr Kit Yee Wong /

The authors of selected abstracts will then be invited to submit their full article. Accepted articles which have passed peer review will be published on a rolling basis, when they are ready. Submissions should comprise:

Abstract (250 words)

Full-length article (8,000 words), inclusive of references and bibliography

Author information (short biographical statement of 200 words)

The final deadline for submission for the articles is Wednesday 15 September 2021.

The Special Collection, edited by Dr Kit Yee Wong, is to be published in the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) (ISSN 2056-6700). The OLH is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded open-access journal with a strong emphasis on quality peer review and a prestigious academic steering board. Unlike some open-access publications, the OLH has no author-facing charges and is instead financially supported by an international consortium of libraries.

Submissions should be made online at in accordance with the author guidelines and clearly marking the entry as “THE PATHOLOGICAL BODY” SPECIAL COLLECTION. Submissions will then undergo a double-blind peer-review process. Authors will be notified of the outcome as soon as reports are received.

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